Rural Manitoba residents steamed over cell coverage
Petition, letters planned to encourage providers to improve cell phone service
Rural Manitoba municipalities are calling for better cellphone service after a scary incident last weekend in Ile Des Chenes.
A woman was attacked in her home and was only able to get through to 911 after eight tries. Now, others are speaking out about the spotty service and the safety concerns that go with it.
The Mayor of Ritchot, Bob Stefaniuk, said the sporadic service is unacceptable.
Ritchot is home to about 1,000 people and sits about 35 kilometres south of Winnipeg. But even though it’s just a short drive from the city, it still gets spotty coverage.
"The chief administrative officer and myself were mandated to write a letter to the phone company detailing this situation and expecting some kind of a positive answer," Stefaniuk said Friday.
The situation is similar in other municipalities. Larry St. Laurent lives in Ile Des Chenes. He has two cell phones but relies on a land line at home.
"It’s horrible," he said. "Sometimes I get called in for work, and if I’m not home, I don’t get the calls, so it’s costing me money and it’s expensive to have."
Two hours away, in La Riviere, residents are also unhappy. A petition has been circulating through the town to have MTS provide service to their area. So far, 995 signatures have been collected.
But the petition may not make a difference. On Friday, an MTS spokesperson told CBC the cost of service in rural and remote areas is too expensive for any business models.
However, the statement said, "We have met with all levels of government to discuss this topic and are open to further expansion of our wireless network."
In the meantime, La Riviere residents are continuing to collect signatures, and Stefaniuk plans to drop off his letter next week.